An ‘expat’ guide to living and working in the UK

You will have your own reasons for living and working in the UK. The UK is considered to be a great country which can offer a lot of opportunities, but there are many factors which should be taken into account.

An ‘expat’ guide to Living and working in the UK
  1. You should understand why and where you wish to live in the UK.

  2. Are you going to work study or invest in the UK?

  3. Will you require a UK Visa? Almost certainly you will.

  4. Are you familiar with the current political economic and employment situation in the UK?

  5. Do you have enough money to live in the UK or are you moving with a work contract or will you find employment which will cover all your living costs?

  6. Before you embark on your adventure, ensure you plan thoroughly as this will hopefully ensure you make all the right decisions.

So what is the difference between the United Kingdom (UK) & Great Britain?

The United Kingdom (coloured in red) with the Republic of Ireland in grey.

The United Kingdom (coloured in red) with the Republic of Ireland in grey.

The UK is short for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  It is a sovereign state and is made up of four countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Great Britain is not a country; it’s a landmass. It is known as ‘Great’ because it is the largest island in the British Isles, and houses the countries of England, Scotland and Wales within its shores.

In summary:

The UK – a sovereign state that includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Great Britain – an island situated off the north west coast of Europe.

British Isles – a collection of over 6,000 islands, of which Great Britain is the largest.

England – a country within the UK.

Immigration UK

The UK voted to leave the EU, which means there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to UK visa applications. It is uncertain what is going to happen to all EU citizens who currently live and work in the UK. It is also unclear what type of Visas EU citizens will require in the future.

For more detailed information about an up to date, current visa situation, please visit the UK Government website.

Is the UK expensive?

There is no question that some living costs are regarded as being very expensive. Other aspects of living and working in the UK are incredibly reasonably priced.

Renting in the UK is regarded as expensive, particularly in London and other major UK cities.

Buying property, particularly for ex-pats who only plan to live in the UK for say 1-5 years, is expensive. Not only is property expensive but the actual costs involved in buying are high. Long term buying is a serious option rather than renting.

Homes for Rent in the UK

Renting property in the UK can be complex and you need to know what you are looking for right from the start. You should take several factors into account, such as location, price/budget, type of accommodation, council tax, cost of utilities, TV license, requirements from landlords, tenancy contracts and the safety deposit scheme.

Location - Where is the ideal location? Is it close to work? Close to transport links? Is it in a rural place or right in the city/town centre?

The ‘nicer and more convenient’ the location the higher the price. Remember to always check out the local community or neighbourhood. Ideally, when you view the rental property, check out the type of other properties that are around and how they are maintained.

Type of rental properties

There are three main types of rental properties in the UK:

  • Furnished - with all furniture and fixtures, often with a fully equipped kitchen including white goods

  • Part-furnished – white goods in the kitchen and with some furniture and fixtures

  • Unfurnished - no furniture, but some white goods (e.g. fridge, washing machine, dishwasher etc)

When a tenancy starts an inventory report/list will be detailed with all the contents that are included including furniture, fixtures, and white goods. It is the responsibility of the tenant for keeping everything in the same condition as when rented.

Prior to renting a property in the UK it is the tenant’s responsibility for arranging out your own direct debits for utility bills, internet, TV license and council tax. Make sure you get an up to date address on your driver's license (depending on your nationality). Make sure you also notify your bank with your new address.

Costs of rental properties

There are many costs involved when renting a property in the UK.

  • You usually need one month’s rent in advance, as well as 6 weeks deposit.

  • If you are renting an unfurnished property, then you obviously need to buy your own furniture which can be costly.

*Note that your deposit has to be kept in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Your landlord (or agency) must provide you with a letter confirming this; the deposit stays in the TDS. This guarantees your money is protected.

Banking in the UK

In order to open a bank account, you will need an address and some legitimate ID. Usually, your passport and/or your tenancy agreement will be required as proof of address. Request a bank account which gives you a free account with a standard debit card and ask for a contactless card. This will allow you to pay for things up to £30 contactless.

Requesting a credit card is often difficult as you don’t have any credit history in the country.

For further information or help about Living and Working in the UK contact Premier Property Search on 01962 793100 or email